Miraculous Medal Shrine Carillon

Did you know? The bells you hear every Monday are not a recording! Janet Tebbel is our regular carillonneur.

The carillon playing times are: Mondays at 5:30-6:30pm and 7-7:30pm.

What is a Carillon?

The carillon is a musical instrument of 23 or more bells that when sounded produce music. Carillon bells are hung stationary with only the clapper moving against the lip of the bell. It is manually played from a console with both fists and feet activating batons and pedals attached to the clappers through a mechanical linkage. There is no electronic assistance to ring the bells. Remarkable variations in expression are possible and controlled entirely by the carillonneur. The music can travel great distances in all directions, making it a community instrument for the public.

View from below of some of the middle-size and smaller bells in the Miraculous Medal Shrine carillon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Miraculous Medal Shrine’s 125-foot bell tower is topped by a 14-foot bronze statue of Mary Immaculate.

History of the Carillon at the Miraculous Medal Shrine:

Construction of the Shrine’s bell tower that houses the carillon was completed in 1899. The parishioners of a nearby parish run by the Vincentians decided that the Shrine should have a bell tower and carillon. They were encouraged to pledge money as memorial offerings. One parishioner, Margaret Ellen Maguire, pledged $5,000 from an inheritance she received from her father. She stipulated that the monies were to be used exclusively for the carillon. In 1900, a carillon of 26 bells was ordered from the famous Paccard Foundry in France. The bells were blessed on March 25, 1901, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin. The bells were officially played for the first time on Easter Sunday, April 7, 1901. These bells are dedicated to the memory of Margaret’s father, John Maguire. The largest bell weighs 3,300 pounds; the smallest weighs 30 pounds. The bells are artfully decorated. Eleven of the bells are inscribed with the names of saints; the remaining 15 bells are named in honor of the 15 Mysteries of the Rosary.

The carillon was silent for many of its first 40 years. There were problems with the mechanical workings of the bells, and there were many upgrades and experiments with new electrical and various mechanical systems. The silence was broken in 1945 when Arthur Lynds Bigelow, an engineer and carillon expert, came to the Shrine and offered to repair the carillon. He also proposed enlarging the carillon to 47 bells. The installation of the bells and new keyboard were completed in 1952. The new carillon with 47 bells was publically played on June 15, 1952, with Bigelow as the carillonneur.

Arthur Lynds Bigelow (left) discusses bell making with Alfred Paccard in the foundry located in Annecy-le-Vieux, France.